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1.57 Billion Pounds?

It’s now July, when I’d normally be averaging about seven gigs a week. I had been booked to perform at the opening night of Hampton Court Flower Show tonight with my Brass Volcanoes. We have done this gig for several years running now and it was always a pleasure so I’ll miss it. I think officially live music to an audience is still forbidden, inside or out, and this isn't set to change any time soon.

There have been pictures circulating of air planes full of passengers sitting side-by-side, prompting tricky questions to politicians asking why concert and theatre goers are still forbidden. Some theatres have gone bust, and many others are said to be on the edge, so it was very welcome news from many that the chancellor yesterday announced a large rescue package for theatres, galleries and museums amounting to £1.57 billion. It has been pointed out that the performers should be included in this but realistically I’m not expecting anything. The professional musicians world is so broad, from full time orchestral players, to West End theatre musicians, session musicians, part time and full time school and college teachers, regular touring musicians (with big and small name bands), wedding and function musicians, those that run small and large agencies booking bands and individuals, composers and arrangers etc. etc. In reality, for most that make a comfortable living, it probably involves a mixture of many income streams, so there isn’t a simple way to allocate support.

We enjoyed a ‘socially distanced’ family gathering in a garden for my mother’s 81’st birthday. Just a few weeks ago this would have felt very irresponsible, but currently with cases of Covid very low in London we felt comfortable enjoying the occasion with eight of us there.

My mum's birthday cake

Shops have been opening and we had a look round our local department store in Holloway, a first since March. The shop was geared up to control numbers of people coming in, with separate entrance and exit doors. Staff are all wearing face masks, and in many stores and supermarkets there are one-way systems marked on the floor, reminding you all the time that things are far from normal. Hairdressers and barbers have also opened and they’ve been doing a roaring trade.

Generally social media seems to be much quieter than a few months ago. Everyone seems to have hunkered down into whatever routine, longing to be able to get back to playing music. Some desperate posts, some angry ones, but most seemed to be resigned to the fact that nothing can be done. One or two people are finding creative ways of making an income – one musician venturing into making designer hand-made benches, another has taken a lease on a small space with a view to setting up a music school. Some have created informative lectures on youtube about musicians and aspects of jazz, as well as cooking, tying knots...

Fraser Smith's benches

The pubs were officially allowed to open last weekend in the UK, under certain guidelines, so yesterday I had my first hand-pulled pint in a beer glass since March. Me and my wife visited her sister for a picnic, and on our way back from this we spotted an empty table outside a pub in the sun. It seemed wrong not to take the opportunity. It was table service only, and it was a folding table set out on the side of the road, so still not quite ‘normal’, but it was fun all the same.


First pub pint

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